The Plk1 inhibitor BI 2536 temporarily arrests primary cardiac fibroblasts in mitosis and generates aneuploidy in vitro

PLoS One. 2010 Sep 24;5(9):e12963. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012963.


BI 2536 is a new anti-mitotic drug that targets polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) and is currently under clinical development for cancer therapy. The effect of this drug on cancer cells has been extensively investigated, but information about the effects on primary dividing cells and differentiated non-dividing cells is scarce. We have investigated the effects of this drug on primary neonatal rat cardiac fibroblasts and on differentiated cardiomyocytes and explored the possibility to use this drug to enrich differentiated cell populations in vitro. BI 2536 had a profound effect on cardiac fibroblast proliferation in vitro and arrested these cells in mitosis with an IC50 of about 43 nM. Similar results were observed with primary human cells (HUVEC, IC50 = 30 nM), whereas the cancer cell line HeLa was more sensitive (IC50 of 9 nM). Further analysis revealed that prolonged mitotic arrest resulted in cell death for about 40% of cardiac fibroblasts. The remaining cells showed an interphase morphology with mostly multi- and micro-nucleated nuclei. This indicates that a significant number of primary fibroblasts are able to escape BI 2536 induced mitotic arrest and apparently become aneuploid. No effects were observed on cardiomyocytes and hypertrophic response (growth) upon endothelin-1 and phenylephrine stimulation was normal in the presence of BI 2536. This indicates that BI 2536 has no adverse effects on terminally differentiated cells and still allows proliferation independent growth induction in these cells. In conclusion, cardiomyocytes could be enriched using BI 2536, but the formation of aneuploidy in proliferating cells most likely limits this in vitro application and does not allow its use in putative cell based therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aneuploidy*
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mitosis / drug effects*
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Pteridines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • BI 2536
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Pteridines
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • polo-like kinase 1